The music that made me #4

Today, at last, classical music appears on my list. (Well, assuming that we call Rhapsody in Blue and the Concert in F jazz music, which I’m not sure I do.)

For years I’ve had a story about this music, a myth I told myself. While I’ve been preparing this series of posts this week, I’ve realized that the myth isn’t very likely. So I’ll tell it the way I think it really went down, and not the way I tell it to myself.

When I entered Duke University as an undergraduate, I had no major in mind. And I really did not have a music major in mind, as I’d quit my piano lessons a few years before (after achieving my life goal of playing Rhapsody in Blue!) and had just been making up songs since then. On a whim I took a couple of teensy credit music courses my first semester, which turned out to be the dreaded-by-music-majors-but-nonetheless-required Ear Training/Sight Singing and Keyboard Theory.

They were a blast! I decided that I would major in music after all. (When I was 12, everybody knew I was going to grow up as a musician. By the time I was 18? Not so much.)

So I arrived at Duke for my sophomore year as a music major, without having had piano lessons in 4 years, without any background in classical music history; really with nothing* but my early love of music and a great ear.

My piano teacher gave me all sorts of cool stuff to learn, things I had only barely been aware of previously. A Beethoven sonata. Some Bach. A thing called an intermezzo by Brahms.

Okay, now we’re to the part of the story that is the same in myth & life:

There I was in line at the Duke bookstore, waiting to check out, when the line snaked past a rack of classical music LPs (remember those?) And one was of Brahms piano solos, Op. 116, 117, 118, 119. 

[Where the stories differ: the myth in my head says I bought this record my freshman year, soon after arriving on campus. Which is a better storyline if it’s true; but I think it’s not true. Oh well.]

Of course I bought the record. And I fell in love with the music.

Today I’m embedding 2 intermezzi by Brahms, both in my classical repertory. First up the marvelously lyrical Op 116 nr 4, played by Emil Gilels.


This second intermezzo is the passionate and luscious Op 118 nr 1 (and is also that first piece given to me by my teacher, way back when), performed here by Radu Lupu. 

Enjoy some more!

* PS: Yes, I had a bit more classical background than that, but I’ll go into that in another post.

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